VIA launches $49 Android PC (um, tiny *TX motherboard actually)

category: offtopic [glöplog]
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The APC’s spec includes a VIA WonderMedia ARM 11 processor at its core, 512MB DDR3 RAM, 2GB of on-board flash storage, 4 USB 2.0 ports, a microSD slot, Ethernet port, and both VGA and HDMI display ports. As for power consumption, it tops out at 13 watts under load and 4 watts when idle.

The ARM 11 SoC being used is the WonderMedia WM8750, which runs at 800MHz, supports OpenGL-ES 2.0, and includes H.264 video encoding and 720p video playback. In other words, it’s probably going to function quite well as a cheap media playback machine or as a development board for testing Android apps if you can cope with using the included Android 2.3 OS. That’s sure to be upgradeable, though.

VIA is taking pre-orders for the APC now and hopes to start shipping the boards in early July. If you want to be ready with a case, know that the Neo-ITX form factor is compatible with both Mini-ITX and MicroATX, so you should be able to pick up a tiny and cheap case to house it easily.

Let me pre-empt a few replies:

- Neat!
- Does it run Linux though?
- Why would anyone want a phone operating system on a desktop?
- This is a bit underspecced!
- If it's a proprietary GPU, I ain't interested.
- What a weird device - no SATA ports or PCI slots, why even bother with the ATX style form factor?
- Someone's obviously trying to steal the Raspberry Pi's thunder!
I would run IT2 on this one!
added on the 2012-05-22 20:10:26 by __ __
- Someone's obviously trying to steal the Raspberry Pi's thunder!

that is probably quite true though.
added on the 2012-05-22 20:24:20 by Gargaj Gargaj
looks decent but I'm missing a SATA port (and gimme a real Linux with proper driver support!)
added on the 2012-05-22 20:50:03 by xyz xyz
What a weird device - no SATA ports or PCI slots, why even bother with the ATX style form factor?

Because hardware standards are nice, mm-kay?
added on the 2012-05-22 22:22:43 by el-bee el-bee
Does it at least have GPIO?
added on the 2012-05-22 22:49:09 by trc_wm trc_wm
The GPU is 85% certain to be a Mali200, which will have an open-source reverse-engineered graphics driver Real Soon Now. So, yay for that bit!

(Based on: the fancier WM8950 version is advertised to have a Mali400. An Android ROM I found for a device with the similarly-numbered and similarly-specced WM8710 chip appears to have drivers for the Mali200. The WonderMedia chips are advertised as being based on ARM IP too... I couldn't find any info specifically about the WM8750's GPU though.)
added on the 2012-05-22 23:09:47 by puppeh puppeh
The Mali 200 isn't really "all that". The 400 would have been way more fun to play with.
added on the 2012-05-22 23:32:48 by gloom gloom
it's tailored towards consumers as it seems. (but w/o decent mass storage support? what were they thinking..)

if you want GPIO get an stm32f4
-- low-cost (~16€), rather fast CortexM4 CPU @168Mhz. limited RAM (128k+64k), though. 1 MByte Flash.
had a lot of fun with it the past few days =)

but with regards to recent devices like the Raspberry, Beagle or Pandaboard, or the VIA one, these things look more and more
like viable desktop replacements to me. HW is decent, SW is still the big issue, in my experience.
added on the 2012-05-22 23:33:14 by xyz xyz
What a weird device - no SATA ports or PCI slots, why even bother with the ATX style form factor?

It fits ITX cases, which is what VIA pioneered in the first place. Force of habit combined with upgrading old VIA solutions, methinks. The fact that the Pi lacked a proper casing only helped jokers who could post cigarette packs on Reddit and people who use Kickstarter to fuel their crack habit by promising similar cases.

Plus, having a board layout that is several times the size of a Pi (that board looks about as compact as the vintage Atari 2600) means they don't have headaches with trying to make things fit at cost. A deluxe version with SATA would fit several times over.

Despite all that, the announced version is a stinker. Underspecced, 720p playback considered a true feature... Waiting for the Pi backlog to vanish seems a better deal.
added on the 2012-05-23 02:56:36 by Shifter Shifter
cheap 'n' small web streamer and casual gamer. not bad. ofc the storage is due.
added on the 2012-05-23 03:25:24 by yumeji yumeji
The ideal size would be around the size of a 2.5" disk, with a case think enough to hold the ports and a disk.
added on the 2012-05-23 03:32:38 by xernobyl xernobyl
I'm curious, what's with all the 'no SATA' whining? Don't the internal 2gb mem and SD card somehow NOT work for storage? Or simply plugging a USB stick / HDD or using NAS?
added on the 2012-05-23 09:11:25 by el-bee el-bee
These system on chip things are made for mobile phones, so no SATA.

If you want GPIO and there are no pins available for that you can always hook-up a I²C GPIO expander chip at the DDC pins of the HDMI. That way you can get as much GPIO as wanted. It will not be terribly fast though.

If you want linux: Android is already running on the system, so all you have to do is to replace the root filesystem with some non-android build. For a quick hack just remove the zygote and other services from init.rc and you have a android root without GUI and that java crap. Looks very much like linux to me.

added on the 2012-05-23 09:43:29 by torus torus
Shame it still manages to be twice the price of a Pi. Mind you, I would find a VGA socket on the Pi handy.
added on the 2012-05-23 10:58:33 by Subi Subi
no fullHD playback, or am i missing sth? (searching for a neat and low-cost device to rum XMBC on)
added on the 2012-05-23 10:58:41 by v3nom v3nom
Me predicting the responses wasn't actually a reflection of my opinions - I can see the pros and cons in this motherboard.

I've got a Pi on the way - this thing looks interesting too - wait and see what comes of it I suppose.
@rc55: How many PIs will be at Sunrise? :)
added on the 2012-05-23 11:34:23 by Subi Subi
Subi: At least one, anyone's free to use mine if they like. Gasman has one too, so I suppose he might bring his along too.